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July 24th, 2008
Education and Integration Bill to Help Immigrant Families Succeed in U.S.

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva joined with other legislators in sponsoring legislation to assist immigrant communities in learning English language and civics education. The legislation was introduced today by Representative Michael Honda (CA), Rep. Grijalva is an original co-sponsor of the bill.

The Strengthening Communities through Education and Integration Act will provide immigrant families access to critical assistance such as English language literacy and civics education. The bill will help provide resources to help immigrant families learn English, integrate into American society and maximize their social and economic contributions.

“Immigrants have long built American infrastructure, fueled our economy through entrepreneurship, and their contributions have made what our country is today,” said Grijalva.  “With the growth of the English language learner (ELL) population comes the urgent need to devote resources to education and ensuring that we fully embrace them into their communities.”

According to the Census Bureau, over 19% of the population (54.8 million) speaks a language other than English at home. Between 11 and 21 million individuals are estimated to have limited English proficiency. Despite common assumptions, the native-born ELL population nearly doubled between 2000 and 2005 and over one-half of ELLs in public secondary schools are second- or third-generation, increasing at a higher rate than the immigrant population. Between 2010 and 2030, these first and second generation immigrants are projected to account for all growth in the U.S. labor force.

In the past few years, over 1,500 pieces of legislation related to immigrants and integration have been introduced in state legislatures around the country.  Around the country, 55 localities have introduced anti-immigrant ordinances.  Only 4 of these communities have repealed or rescinded their ordinance. 

“This bill upholds our American values by giving these families tools they need to succeed, honoring the entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants and not hindering them by punitive anti-immigrant laws,” stated Grijalva.

The Strengthening Communities through Education and Integration Act would:

Invest in adult education programs for English language learners

  • Increases our investment in adult education by codifying English literacy and civics adult education programs and creating a new appropriation for these programs.

Ensure that our nation’s children and schools have adequate funding and resources for vital literacy programs for English language learners

  • Increases the authorization for Even Start Family Literacy programs to $350 million.
  • Provides resources for expanded learning time programs for English language learners in middle and high school.

Assist schools with teacher recruitment for English language learners

  • Creates a $1,500 tax credit for teachers of English language learners and a deduction for their certification.

Provide incentives for employers to offer adult education and ESL programs to their employees

  • Creates a 20% tax credit to employers that expend their resources to provide English language instruction and GED training.

Provide technical assistance and support to state and local efforts supporting newcomers

  • Re-establishes the Office of Citizenship in USCIS as the Office of Citizenship and Immigrant Integration, which would coordinate federal policies on integration and serve as a liaison to state and local entities
  • Makes grant money available to states to establish New American Councils that bring together business, faith, civic, philanthropic, non-profit and education stakeholders to create and implement immigrant integration programs.

The bill has been endorsed by many national organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), United Food and Commercial Workers, American Library Association, National Education Association (NEA), National Council of La Raza, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU

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